Hailed as a young man’s sport, a career in hip hop can be seen as a precarious one. Once you break through the rite of passage adeptly coined as “The Come Up”, the pressure that comes with consumer culture, relevancy, and record label expectations will have you in a race against time.
Typically, you are given a set number of years to maximize your brand, become a household name, and if you’re talented and equally as lucky, achieve a status of longevity that needs a special kind of consistency and adaptability. Toiling a 15+ year strain of consistency, Priddy Ugly’s second album SOIL represents traction of upward mobility that has resulted in a full-circle moment of transcendence.
Settling into the production of Shooter Khumz, Wichi 1080, and Herc Cut The Lights, Priddy explores several narrative discourses of a disempowered youth, populating his features with testaments from Zulu Mecca, Blxckie, H-D, and Magera Doe Boy to raise his arguments.
After an entertaining first listen where you breathe it all in, you dig into the unpacked narratives during the listening experience. This body of work has proven to be an existential return to self, going into the root of everything that makes you who you are to ensure that the time you have on earth is spent in the most productive and meaningful way, irrespective of the challenges.
The poetic reflections carried through “SOIL”, “Let Me Out” and “Dead Jungle” unpack the psycho-social damage inflicted by the relentless poverty cast upon SA’s majority. Our state of moral, financial, psychical, and spiritual destitution drives many below the status quo into a point of no return.
It encourages the boy child in the township to carry a knife in his Grade 7 school bag because the number one rule of the dead jungle enforces an eye-for-an-eye mentality, simply because I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees. Priddy intentionally reminds us of the result of remaining in a state of perpetual poverty by intellectually starving our minds and emotionally starving our hearts, urging us to become critical thinkers and change our lives for the better.
Balancing the conscious undertone that dominated the bulk of the listening experience is a double-edged sword that has split social media into polarizing pandemonium – citing the intention for this album to be a RAP album, Priddy’s mission would not have been accomplished without a daunting reminder to his peers in the hip hop space to rap. “Rap Relay” with the villainous Maglera Doe Boy was the alley-oop precursor to the slam dunk that was “Handful of Dust”.
“Rap is in cocky place; I’m not the one to turn into hibachi steak
Lost his taste, now your favorite rapper probably dropping plates
Copy, paste, I’m Haile Selassie in Versace shades.”
Fans of the rappers who found themselves under Priddy’s blade in the lyrical onslaught took to the social media streets to defend their favorite rappers. The $limes (A-Reece fans) were leading the Twitter responses, and YouTube content creators uploaded their thoughts on the song in a New York minute. Many felt that the rappers referenced in “Handful of Dust”won’t respond to Priddy Ugly. While the verdict on responses is left to the MCs in question, we can say for sure that the bar tier culture has hit a reset button, and one can expect exciting times of verbal sparta ahead.
In the end SOIL kills two birds with one stone. The one bird that sings pressure around the second album being the decider of an artist’s staying power, and the other bird that laments Priddy’s inability to rap.